When both you and your spouse work full-time, after-school activities can kick your ass.
With my job, there is simply no way to get to a 4 p.m. practice, or dance class, or scout meeting. I work 35 miles from home, and if you know anything about Southern California freeways, I’d need to leave the office at 2:30 p.m. to get to after-care, pick up my kid, shove a snack at him and hurry him to get ready for practice. We’d then likely zoom into the parking lot, and realize I left something at home.
So obviously, the baseball practice conundrum does not fall on my shoulders.
My husband, on the other hand, teaches until 3 p.m., so he sprints from his classroom almost every day of the week, drives 10 miles, picks up my daughter at preschool and then grabs my boys at after-school care. He’s a machine, having already packed snacks the night before, and all the kids know the drill. Change. Pee. Grab homework. Grab jackets. Grab sports gear. Run to the car. Go, go, go!
Surprisingly, in this day and age of so many families sporting two working parents, all of the kids arrive to practice. Occasionally, there is a grandparent handling drop-off. Of course there are some stay-at-home parents. And likely there is a parent who has negotiated a flexible schedule, or perhaps works solo.
Every phase of parenting presents challenges, but these crazy years of activities seem to push us to the extreme edge.
- Well, when we sign our kids up for sports, we have no control of the practice schedules, except for the one team my husband is coaching. Teams are often assigned a field, a time and you make the best of it – 4 p.m. practices included.
- We have three kids, so even if they each only select one activity a season, we still juggle an event every night of the week. Even the youngest now has an extracurricular on the list, requiring Dad to acquire the new skill of doing ponytails and buns for ballet.
- If there is more than one activity a night, and we don’t have both parents on deck, we scramble. Who can we call? Do we leave early from one practice to head to the next event? Do we skip something?
- Dinner must be planned. We try to keep it simple. I leverage the crock pot, the microwave, a one-pot wonder ready for the oven. On the worst evenings, we turn to takeout because we just don’t have time to head home for a meal.
- And the weekends? Those are all about dividing and conquering. You take the older kid to soccer. I got the middle one at baseball. The youngest gets dragged around to whichever place has a playground. Please don’t throw a birthday party in the mix!
I love watching my kids explore and delight in their various pursuits. They are all gaining new skills, new friends, new memories. But logistically? We are screwed! As organized as we are, this phase of parenting is all about hustling. Not to mention I feel like I am writing a check for something every week.
But when I see my daughter smile brightly as she prances across the dance studio, or witness my son juke a player on the soccer field, or sit back and listen to my eldest participate in band … well, it’s totally worth it. We’ll find a way, even for the 4 p.m. practice.
How do you manage extracurricular activities with your kids?